ARCA RE/MAX Series Proud Salem Tradition Since 1955
With Daytona in the books, the ARCA RE/MAX Series is again gearing up to go. Next stop - Salem Speedway for the 85th running of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 presented by Federated Car Care Sunday afternoon, April 5.
The annual event is spread out over the weekend with practice and Menards Pole Award Qualifying scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The race is slated to go at 2:15 pm local time Sunday afternoon.
Entrants already include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Ken Schrader, nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel and a host of powerful rookies hoping to make their own mark on the historic half-mile, high-banked oval.
Although Schrader has 15 career ARCA RE/MAX Series victories over the years, only one of his wins came at Salem, and that was 10 years ago.
"Anyone who thinks they can just drop in on an ARCA race and clean up, had better re-think that one," said Schrader. "It's flat tough to win over there, especially at Salem.
"There was a time when you could pick your way through an ARCA field, but not anymore. It's hard enough to stay on the lead lap at Salem, let alone win there. But we'll give it our best. We love the track, and we love the series. The competition is more intense than many people realize."
Kimmel, who hails from nearby Clarksville, Indiana, is the all-time winner at Salem with nine victories. The all-time Salem lap leader also snapped a four-year winless streak at his hometown track with a victory in the ARCA Fall Classic at Salem in 2008. Kimmel will also come with his new title sponsor - Ansell-Menards.
Eddie Sharp Racing, which most recently fielded cars for Scott Speed in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition, has filed four entries for Salem, three of which include rookie drivers. Those rookies are New York, New York's Tim George, Jr., Fort Frances, Ontario's Steve Arpin and Greenville, North Carolina's Craig Goess. ESR has also entered Justin Lofton, last year's winner at Michigan Int'l Speedway.
Other rookies entered include Miami Springs, Florida's Joey Coulter and Humble, Texas's Stephan McCurley.
Other veterans entered include local favorite Darrell Basham, Owensboro, Kentucky's Brett Hudson, Indiantown, Florida's Patrick Sheltra, Dallas, Texas's Ken Weaver and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Norm Benning.
Outside of some occasional downtime when the track changed ownership, the series has been a staple at Salem since 1955. In fact, no track has appeared more on the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule over the years than Salem.
Past RE/MAX Series winners at Salem include NASCAR Cup champion Bobby Allison, six-time ARCA national champ Iggy Katona, three-time series champs Jack Bowsher and Tim Steele, '52 Indy 500 winner Troy Ruttman and USAC stock car veteran/champion Don White. 27 RE/MAX Series races have been won from the pole at Salem.
Camping, on a first-come, first-serve basis, is free. For ticket information, call toll free 1-888-2-GO-RACE or 1 (888) 246-7223.
Rain, Rain Finally Goes Away
After three days of rain that cancelled the ARCA Series open test, eight teams finally made it on the track on Tuesday at the Rockingham Speedway to test for next month’s Carolina 200. click here for the full story.
Sheltra Completes Comeback With Rockingham Test
One of those drivers who tested at Rockingham Speedway on Tuesday had a little bit of an extra reason for wanting to get behind the wheel.
Indiantown, Florida native Patrick Sheltra finally was able to climb into his No. 60 Dodge Charger Tuesday afternoon and log a solid half of a day of testing in preparation of the ARCA RE/MAX Series Carolina 200 at Rockingham Speedway on Sunday, April 19th.
The laps turned Tuesday afternoon also marked the first time that the 22-year old rising star has been behind the wheel of a racecar since being involved in a monstrous incident in the ARCA RE/MAX Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway last month.
“It was nice to be back at it,” said Sheltra, who will continue his full-time march towards the championship at Salem Speedway in April. “I felt real good and comfortable in the car and we were down to business right away.”
Sheltra continued, “We’ve been here since Friday night and we weren’t able to get onto the track until Tuesday afternoon. It drove me crazy. We already made the effort to get down to Rockingham, so we were going to wait it out as long as we could and turn some laps.”
And despite just running for a little over four hours on Tuesday, the Whitesville, Kentucky based team packed up their hauler and began the trip back home after the team led by crew chief John Hayden felt confident about their efforts.
“Overall, we were pretty satisfied. We’ll make a few tweaks here and there but we were competitive here last year until the motor blew. We were definitely top-10 material but we’re inching forwards trying to put together the perfect setup to become the second ARCA winner since the track was reopened.”
Currently occupying the 14th position in the point standings, Sheltra knows that surviving Rockingham is pivotal towards the bigger picture.
“I won’t get tired of saying it, but Rockingham is going to be a crucial piece to the championship puzzle this year. You may have some time to recover here in April if you have some bad luck, but you better have your ducks in a row when you come back in October because this track is so unpredictable, you need to have a nice cushion in case the unexpected should occur.”
“Despite the unknowns, I do enjoy racing here,” Sheltra sounded.
Sheltra and his team now shift their focus towards round two at Salem Speedway. Next week, the team will conduct a private test at the half-mile facility before eyeing the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 on April 5. Sheltra has four starts at the bull ring with three finishes of 11th, including two straight efforts.
“Salem is no joke,” admitted Sheltra. “It’s a very demanding track. We’ve been good there but we can be better. We’re going there next week to see if we can construct a setup that will aid us in our next fight in a couple weeks.”
Crew Chief Harold Holly Ready For ARCA Challenge
Veteran crew chief Harold Holly has been around the block a time or two. After spending 22 years on the NASCAR side of the fence, he, like more than a few others, will be hanging out on the ARCA side of the fence in 2009.
And guess what? He's okay with that.
"I looking forward to it," said Holly. "I've got other things going on in my life. The ARCA schedule isn't so hectic. There's less pressure here and I'll still have time to accomplish other things that are important to me.
"I'm just as motivated now as I ever was; maybe even more so. It's going to be very gratifying to work with Joey (Coulter), watch him come along."
Holly, who was Jeff Green's crew chief when Green won the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship in 2000, has signed on with ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter for the 2009 season.
"Joey's gunna be a blast to work with; he already is. I can see the motivation in his face. He already knows what he wants. I don't have to spend or waste time redirecting him; he does that himself."
Holly most recently worked with Steven Wallace in the Nationwide Series. Prior to that, Holly crew chiefed for Haas Racing (now Stewart-Haas Racing). Going back further, Holly crew chiefed for PPC Racing, the same team that led him and Green to the Nationwide title. And before that?
"I actually started my career working for Mickey Gibbs in 1987; then I went to work for Alan Kulwicki, and it took off from there."
Holly was born and raised in Pell City, Alabama, only a few miles west of Talladega Superspeedway. Holly's introduction to racing came from his father, who took him to every NASCAR event held at the track, starting when he was only six years old.
"My dad is the person who has most inspired my racing career. I learned my basic hand skills with tools from him. He was a master electrician and an awesome mechanic. In my eyes, he was like McGyver with tools; he could do anything with them. I strived really hard to be as good as him. He also took me to all the races at Talladega Superspeedway when I was young, and that, combined with liking to work with tools is what fueled my desire to become involved in racing."
After nearly a quarter century of direct contact with the business of racing, Holly has seen big changes along the way.
"There's been a huge evolution of things over the years, aerodynamically speaking, engines too.
"The cars used to work off the springs; now they don't. Between shock technology, coil-binding and from a geometry standpoint, so much has changed. The coil-bind technology that started in NASCAR is gunna filter over into the ARCA garage; it already has."
Holly also likes the diversity of the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule.
"To tell you the truth, I'm really looking forward to going to the dirt tracks. I've been partnering with Randal Chupp (Wolfpack Racing) building dirt late models. We've got some front-running late models spread out all across the country. It's going to be very interesting to be able to apply some of things I've learned when we go to those two dirt tracks.
"I'm just really excited overall to run the ARCA series with Joey. I had never been to Daytona with a driver that had never been to Daytona. After seeing him make his first laps, and seeing him grin from ear to ear, I've been reminded why I've been doing this for 22 years. It's refreshing."